A Toronto-based couple desired a retreat that would provide a contemporary take on country living. After finding a 100-acre property with rolling cornfields and a barn, they asked architect Cindy Rendely to help them create a comfortable and modern house that would be sensitive to its rural setting.
Design concept and solution: Taking cues from the original barn located at the edge of the property, Rendely designed a new, 3,135-square-foot, rectangular building interrupted along its length by a two-story volume that houses the master bedroom suite above and a second bedroom below. To ensure that the house was truly rural in character, the clients requested a gabled roof, which Rendely exaggerated in pitch and clad with aluminum to complement the neutral tones of the exterior wood. A one-story artist’s studio completes the bar-like volume on the other side of the two-story structure. This independent volume is playfully rotated 15 degrees and is separated from the continuous bar to create an open courtyard space between the two buildings with views directed toward Lake Ontario. Believing that a visual and spatial calm can be derived from simple proportions and repeated forms, Rendely made the footprint of the studio a perfect six-meter cube. At the opposite end of the house, another cube of the same proportions “pushes” through the single-story bar building. This private guest suite is clad entirely in tile and is clearly expressed inside and out. A consistent and simple material palette of one tile and one wood throughout creates a harmonious backdrop for vintage furnishings and folk art. All of the interior finishes are local, durable, and easy to maintain. The grey porcelain tile echoes the region’s clay and rocky ground. Douglas fir was specified in an array of forms for the interior window frames, doors, wall and ceiling finishes, and custom built-in millwork throughout. Quarter-cut and rift-cut veneers and simple plywood sheathing highlight the transformative qualities of the singular material, while maintaining consistent tones. The plywood ceilings give the interiors a raw, barn-like feeling and the random patchwork quality of the material in its natural and unfinished state reinforces the rural character of this modern farmhouse.